The first-year curriculum, which is prescribed for all students, is designed to develop the basic analytic skills that characterize the able lawyer and to give the student some familiarity with the dominant features of the substantive areas of law.
The courses, materials, and method of teaching in the first year are designed to enable the student to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant, to question underlying assumptions and supposed facts, and to place real-life situations into a workable legal framework.
Through the analysis of judicial opinions, statutes, and other material, the first year curriculum gives students the ability to perceive a problem from many different perspectives, and to realize that choices must be made and procedures must be followed to effectively meet the client's needs. The student learns to use facts, to isolate the relevant from the less relevant, and to arrange a factual pattern into a legal framework. The student also learns how to apply legal principles in different practical applications.
The first-year curriculum is also fashioned to orient the student to the general areas of substantive law. No law studentor lawyer for that matter, can have a detailed knowledge of all legal areas but the student should be able to recognize the basic legal dimensions of a problem and work that problem through to its conclusion. The first-year curriculum is designed to give students a fundamental understanding of the law.
Recognizing the importance of imparting basic legal skills and concepts to beginning law students, the faculty has established a required set of courses in both the day and evening divisions. The first-year day-division curriculum consists of eight required semester-long courses, three or four taken each semester, plus a yearlong course in lawyering skills. Evening-division students are required to complete the same basic courses within the first two years of their law school career.
Civil Procedure (4 hrs.)
- An introduction to the judicial system and the basic problems and concepts involved in the adjudication of civil cases. The litigation process from jurisdiction through appellate review is considered. Topics include jurisdiction, pleadings, pretrial motions, discovery, pretrial conferences, jury trial, post-trial motions, finality of judgments, and appellate review.
- Mr. Goldman, Ms. Kelly, Ms. La Belle, Ms. Malveaux, Mr. Ogilvy.
Constitutional Law (5 hrs.)
- A study of the American constitutional system, emphasizing sources, limits, and modes of exercise of federal and Supreme Court jurisdiction; the allocation of powers between the federal government and the states; the separation of powers among the coordinate branches of the federal government; and selected topics involving the guarantees of individual rights in the Bill of Rights and the post–Civil War Amendments.
- Mr. Breger, Mr. Destro, Ms. Fischer, Mr. Garvey, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Kaplin, Mr. Perez, Dr. Wagner, Mr. Watson.
Contracts (5 hrs.)
- A study of the fundamental principles of contract law, as expressed both in the common law and Article Two of the Uniform Commercial Code. Topics include the formation of contract obligation; the writing requirement of the statute of frauds; unfairness, overreaching, and the limits of public policy as grounds for nonenforcement; interpretation; breach; remedies for breach; and the rights of third parties. In addition to substantive contract doctrine, the course is designed to teach analysis of common law and statutory materials and the application of law to factual situations.
- Mr. Bishop, Ms. Drinan, Ms. Lerman, Mr. Perez, Ms. Roberts, Ms. Schooner, Mr. Watson, Ms. Winston.
Criminal Law (3 hrs.)
- The course covers the elements of criminal conduct in general and of specific crimes, which may include rape, the various forms of homicide, drug and theft offenses, anticipatory offenses, group criminality, and both common law and statutory defenses including insanity, provocation, and duress.
- Ms. Drinan, Mr. Fishman, Ms. Leary, Ms. Sun, Mr. Watson, Ms. Wortham.
Lawyering Skills (4 hrs. — 2 hrs. each semester)
- In the first semester, students develop analytical skills, a clear and effective writing style, and the ability to research, through drafting office memoranda. In the second semester, students learn advocacy skills through the writing of a memorandum in support of a motion, development of an appellate brief and oral argument before a panel of attorney judges.
- Ms. Everhart, Ms. Farrar, Dr. Harmon, Ms. Jennison, Ms. Lewis, Mr. Williams, Mr. Woods.
Property (4 hrs.)
- This is the basic course in property. It considers such topics as the nature of “property,” property “interests,” and property as an institution in contemporary society; problems in possession; the historical development of land law and its manifestation in the law of landlord and tenant; and conveyancing.
- Mr. Colinvaux, Mr. Garvey, Ms. Silecchia, Mr. G. Smith.
Social Justice and the Law: Introduction to Catholic Social Thought
- This course examines the application of the Catholic Church's tradition of social thought to issues of social justice and law. It familiarizes students with the social encyclyicals of the popes and with the relevant documents of the Second Vatican Council, beginning with Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum novarum (1891) and continuing through Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus caritas est (2006). Topics include the relation of law and morality, justice as a norm of lawmaking, the justification and limits of the authority of law, subsidiarity, religious freedom, the reciprocal rights and duties of civil society, penal justice, the dignity of the person, the dignity of human life, the authentic character of marriage and family, the meaning of human work, economic justice, the Church's preferential option for the poor, and justice among nations and peoples in a global era. Within the confines of a one-credit course, the content of the social encylicals and other church documents on these topics will be elucidated by reference to the Catholic tradition of legal philosophy. Full-time students are required to complete the course during their first year. Part-time (evening) students are required to complete the course any time during their second or third years.
Torts (4 hrs.)
- A study of the noncontractual obligations that an individual in society owes to others according to the common law and statutes.Emphasis is placed on intentional acts violating legally protected interests, such as assault, battery, and false imprisonment; negligent conduct resulting in injury; causation; traditional forms of liability without fault and the more recent development of strict liability for defective products.
- Ms. Kelly, Ms. Leiter, Mr. Mintz, Dr. Noone, Mr. Ogilvy, Mr. Perez, Mr. Rienzi, Mr. Scordato.
At the Columbus School of Law, the academic programs are a comprehensive legal education weaving a strong theoretical foundation with sophisticated practical training. This distinctive educational approach furnishes students with the mental tools to face the demands of the 21st century.